Another New Year, but No Resolutions
|January 5, 2014||Posted by Marcia Mantell under General|
I sat down on the first Saturday morning of the New Year while the house was quiet and created a new format of calendar for the year. Somewhere in the library of Microsoft Word templates, I found this neat one-page format where there is a small calendar on the page surrounded by little text boxes where you note the various things you are planning to do that month. For me, it is different from my big, color-coded wall calendar that hangs prominently on the kitchen wall, with all of the day-to-day appointments and events that the family needs to do. Instead, this new format is more of a personal planner – a way to look forward through the year in bite-sized bits.
In each of the text boxes, I set up categories that include short-term and longer-range plans. There is also a place for a picture, so I got really creative and added family photos from last year. That way I could remember the fun we had: a photo of my girls on a ski lift in February, Lake Tahoe from our vacation in August, a trip to Plimoth Plantation in the fall.
The categories can be set up for anything you want. There are 6 boxes and I set mine up to range from house and garden projects to family fun to finances. The first planning box that I thought to include was “taxes” for January. Well, it is that time of year and I do need to gather tax documents and pull together the packet for the accountant. It seems that we have so much time between January 1st and April 15th, but, those days go by so fast. So, I kept taxes in a box for February and March, too. I had another box for “finances” that included paying bills and reconciling the checkbook.
And, that’s when it hit me…another New Year means that I’m another year closer to retirement. Oh no! We really need to regroup on where we are for retirement. It’s been a while since we looked at our retirement balance sheet, our retirement accounts and our plans. Are we even on track?
I took a brief detour from my planning calendar to check our retirement account balances. Good to see that the recovery in the market has rewarded our buy-and-hold strategy in equities. But there is more to do and we need to carve out some time to revisit our plans. Should we increase contributions to Dan’s 401(k)? Can I put more into my SEP-IRA? Does it make sense to convert any of our traditional IRA assets to Roth IRAs, without having a big tax hit?
Needless to say, the third little text box has a new category on the planning calendars: “retirement plans”.
The other three boxes are for my “daughters’ activities”, “movies, museums and music” for something fun to look forward each month, and big “house and garden” projects (though I’m saving those for after tax season!).
So, while I didn’t make any actual resolutions, I did find a more creative way to plan out the year that might just help me focus on the important financial activities that will make a difference to us in the long run.
I’ll let you know next January if this is a “keeper” idea or not. Happy New Year!